“I was welcomed to Khanye Colliery by the Mine’s Engineering team. I was mentored primarily by Khanye Colliery Engineering Foreman Brian Gwaze, who is a qualified Mechanical Engineer with years of experience in the coal mining industry.
At the workshop, I was exposed to heavy earthmoving machinery. This helped me put my theoretical knowledge to practical use. I have learnt a lot about how machines operate and the importance of adopting a maintenance philosophy. Reliability centred maintenance governs all maintenance activities to achieve an average of 93% availability on the mining machines.”
Zithobeni local, Zwivhuya Phathela (30) is a Mechanical Engineering Intern at Khanye Colliery, who has been doing her internship at Khanye Colliery since June 2020. Zwivhuya holds a B-Tech in Mechanical Engineering, which she completed in 2019.
Moreover, she points out that she has learnt about the importance of adhering to the Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA).
“This guides us on how to work safely at the mine. One can’t just assume you are doing things correctly; we need to adhere to the health and safety rules.”
Zwivhuya says that when she started working at Khanye Colliery, the mine was in the process of implementing a new Collision Avoidance System (CAS) on its mining machines.
“I was awarded an opportunity to be part of the team leading the implementation of Section 8 of the MHSA, which deals with seeking to avoid pedestrians and machines from colliding as a way to prevent vehicle fatalities and damage to properties on the mines.”
Furthermore, she has also learnt to draft procedures at the workshop and has enjoyed learning how to service mine machines, such as the Trackless Mobile Machines (TTMs) and Light-Duty Vehicles (LDVs). Zwivhuya has also learnt about the importance of adhering to service intervals, as part of regular and preventative maintenance strategies.
“It is also vital to ensure that breakdown maintenance is done quickly to get the machines back into production because they are crucial to ensuring production targets are met,” she emphasises.
Moreover, Zwivhuya was exposed to “core mechanics”, such as how to install a pump, and how to do fault-finding on engines.
“As part of attaining a Government Certificate of Competency (GCC) to become a certified engineer, one needs to be exposed to both the electrical and mechanical aspects of engineering,” she points out. Therefore, she has received training on electrical aspects of the mine, such as how to connect the wires in the plant, service of motors and lights.
“Although I am a Mechanical Engineer academic major, I still need to have an understanding of electrical activities, the welding and millwright side of the operation as GCC Engineers are responsible for all engineering related actives around the whole mine.”
Zwivhuya states that she is deeply appreciative of all the knowledge she has developed by learning from Khanye Colliery Engineering Manager, Tshepo Mokwele and Engineering Foreman Brian Gwaze.
“They pushed us to be the best and even sacrificed their precious time to accommodate us to ensure we were able to master everything we learnt. I have learnt a great deal from them about not only mining and engineering, but also about life and how to be a good leader, who everyone respects.”